Disney Magic, It’s a Whole New Cruise Ship

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Kids can have fun spotting Mickey Mouse during the sailing.
Kids can have fun spotting Mickey Mouse during the sailing.

The Disney Magic has been re-imagined and it’s offering a slew of new and wonderful experiences, but the best part is that it’s all wrapped up in a classic setting—after all, we can’t ignore the fact that the Disney Magic was the first ship in the Disney Cruise Line fleet to set sail 16 years ago.

“The design of the Disney Magic is as timeless as families coming together and creating shared memories together,” said Bruce Vaughn, chief creative executive, Walt Disney Imagineering, during a panel discussion on board a late-October sailing on the Disney Magic from Port Miami. “What we did with the re-imagining of the Magic is take the innovation and creativity that we are known for, and expanded what it means to have something for everyone.”

In essence, the Disney Magic got a major facelift without messing with her finer features, and boy did she come out looking fabulous. Recommend had the opportunity to sail on that late-October sailing and we were armed with a very tough critic—an 8-year-old junior reporter with a personality that would have some Fortune 500 CEOs shaking in their boots. By the end of the cruise, though, the junior reporter was as giddy as one would expect—each experience more “magical” than the previous one.

“We tried to take an approach that said this ship, which started it all at Disney Cruise Line, deserved all we could it give it in terms of thinking about everything we’ve learned along the way,” said Tom Staggs, chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, during the aforementioned panel, “yet retain all the charm and everything that made the Disney Magic such a beloved ship for the last 16 years. Disney Magic has a long life ahead of her and many years of delighting her guests.”

Stateroom with verandah.
Stateroom with verandah.


Before clients even get to their stateroom, they will, of course, pass the grand atrium lobby, and wow, it’s a stunner. In fact, when we had the opportunity to ask Karl Holtz, president, Disney Cruise Line, what repeat and first-time passengers are most going to be surprised by, he immediately said, “The reinvention of the atrium is something that strikes people the minute they walk in.” The spacious 3-deck lobby features hand-tufted, custom-made carpet in a palette of vibrant coral, blue and aquamarine seashell-inspired designs. The art deco atrium chandelier is inspired by rays of the sun and the glisten of the surface of the ocean. To say that it’s a great prelude to the rest of the ship and the myriad enhancements is to put it mildly. And if the little ones don’t notice the glittering chandelier, they’ll definitely remember the character meet-and-greets that take place in the lobby (during our sailing we hobnobbed with the best of them—Cinderella, Snow White, Minnie, Aurora and, of course, Mickey).

Going back to those staterooms, though, in total there are 877 divided into 256 Inside Staterooms; 621 Outside Staterooms; 259 Ocean View and 362 Verandah, including 22 suites. During our time on board the Disney Magic, we stayed in a 268-sq.-ft. oceanview stateroom with verandah, which sleeps three or four, and includes a queen-size bed, single convertible sofa, and split bath with tub and shower, as well as, of course, that private verandah. If your clients can opt for it, book the oceanview with the verandah, because there is nothing more tranquil than sitting out on the verandah looking at the vast ocean in front of you—it truly invigorates the senses (and it’s a great breather for when parents want to get away from the buzz of onboard activities). The space itself is perfectly suitable for a family of four, and the split bath is a godsend because it speeds things along when everyone is trying to get ready for the next activity, as are the elevated bed frames that provide storage space underneath.

kids activities galore

Any ship that flies the Disney flag is going to cater to children in a way that many other ships can’t and just one ride down the Slinky Dog slide in Andy’s Room, of “Toy Story” fame, had us smiling from ear to ear (yes, adults can have some fun of their own, even in Disney’s Oceaneer Club, which, of course, is a creative fun space for kids 3 to 12). It’s been completely re-imagined and offers everything from Marvel’s Avengers Academy, where children are transported to a high-tech command post used by The Avengers for special missions and operations training, to the aforementioned Andy’s Room, stocked with all of Andy’s favorite toys, including a larger-than-life Mr. Potato Head and a giant version of the piggy bank, Hamm. For little princesses, there’s Pixie Hollow, which offers a magical forest setting with Tinker Bell’s teapot house serving as a costume closet. And, of course, what’s a Disney kids’ club without Mickey, so we can’t forget to mention Mickey Mouse Club, where kids can create crafts and play games on ear-shaped tables. If you think that’s plenty to keep the little ones busy, think again because there’s also Disney’s Oceaneer Lab, a pirate-themed area where children are encouraged to create, play and explore. Here, there’s an animator’s studio, a pirate workshop, and a lab that lets kids get hands-on in creating experiments and art projects, while the Navigator Simulators let the kids steer a ship through the waters of the Caribbean. Both areas are connected by a passageway that allows kids to go back and forth. Even the tiniest in the family need their space, too, and for that there’s It’s a Small World Nursery, with age-specific fun, and most importantly for parents, trained counselors and an area for nap time.

So where does that leave the tweens and teens? Well, they are in completely separate parts of the ship, literally. The tweens can go off to Deck 2 where they’ll find the Edge and hang out with kids their own age, while the teens head over to Deck 11 to the Vibe. The latter is actually a very cool space that invites teens to sit down in comfy furniture and kick-back and relax. During our visit to both the tween and the teen spaces, lots of kids were hanging out (much cooler than being seen with their younger sibling, of course) and making good use of the facilities’ amenities.

Families can hang out while watching theatre productions such as "Twice Charmed:An Original Twist on the Cinderella Story."
Families can hang out while watching theatre productions such as “Twice Charmed:An Original Twist on the Cinderella Story.”

water fun

Ok, so the kids’, tweens’ and teens’ clubs are all well and good, but we can guarantee that where you’ll be finding most of the kids is on the AquaDunk. To go on the Disney Magic and not experience the AquaDunk is almost a sin. This 37-ft.-tall body slide begins with riders stepping into a translucent tube and awaiting the near-vertical launch that takes place when the floor beneath them opens like a trap door. To say that your heart does a somersault is to put it mildly—this is exhilarating. Once that trap door opens, it sends passengers on a swift and splashy ride starting atop the forward funnel on Deck 13 and ending on Deck 10. Oh, and for an added bit of fun, the slide sends guests over the edge in a tube that extends 20 ft. over the side of the ship. According to Holtz, the AquaDunk and the AquaLab—we’ll get to that in a minute—are “wows. I have tons of people say to me, ‘I love it, I love it, I love it.’ The number of kids that were at AquaDunk yesterday told me, I think we did something right.”

The new, 1,800-sq.-ft. AquaLab is an interactive water playground for kids 3 and older that’s filled with pop jets, geysers and bubblers. There’s a Twist ‘n’ Spout water slide that takes riders through a series of spirals and turns, with three large loops turning them in opposite directions. Although the junior reporter that accompanied us opted out of the AquaDunk, she couldn’t get enough of the water slide at the AquaLab, and, in fact, most of the riders were around her age.

Fathoms nightclub.
Fathoms nightclub.

adult fun

Needless to say, adults can have just as much fun as the younger ones at both of those water areas, but there is also a whole area just for them called the After Hours entertainment district. During our sailing, we didn’t have the opportunity to sample any of the goodies there (we did have a demanding 8-year-old to attend to), but we can tell you that there’s a Fathoms nightclub, a low-key Keys piano bar and lounge, as well as O’Gill’s Pub, which, we heard from other passengers, tended to be a favorite among the adults. The latter is an Irish pub and sports bar with traditional barstools and designed in rich green accents and dark woods (nice place to sort of get away from the little ones, we think).


dining favorites

Disney Magic has several dining venues, including the South American-themed Carioca’s; Lumiere’s, serving French-inspired cuisine; the adults-only Palo with Italian fare; and our favorite, Animator’s Palate. By now, you all know about the “Drawn to Magic” dinner animation show at the Animator’s Palate, but words can’t describe how truly magical this show is. What can describe it is having an 8-year-old jumping out of her seat and saying, “Look, mommy, over there,” constantly looking around and around as all the sketches come to life, with each step of the show more and more charming, and a grand finale with Sorcerer Mickey. It doesn’t get better than that, and that’s what Disney does so well and has continued to do with the re-imagined Disney Magic—entertain everyone and create a one-of-a-kind experience.

P.S. During dinner, I opted for the sugar-free desserts and they were delicious. They even get that right!

Animator's Palate
Animator’s Palate

Eye on the World

Visit recommend.com and click on “Eye on the World” under “departments” to view a slideshow of the Disney Magic.

Andy's Room
Andy’s Room


Disney Cruise Line not only focuses on the activities for children, as you would expect, but they create top notch adult-only and family activities. Their children’s activities are not only for the little ones, but they also feature tween and teen clubs, which are very unique in the travel industry. Disney Cruise Line also offers a private island only for their ships, Castaway Cay, that is truly paradise!

“I feel comfortable booking a Disney cruise for my clients because I know they are going to receive luxurious accommodations with a wide variety of unique family-friendly activities, while sailing on some of the nicer ships at sea. They offer one-of-a-kind magical experiences that are only available on Disney Cruise Line, while taking you to some of the most popular destinations like the Caribbean, Alaska and Europe.”

—Kim Goldstein, travel consultant specializing in Disney Destinations, Journeys Inc.

"Disney Dreams...An Enchanted Classic," one of the onboard theater productions.
“Disney Dreams…An Enchanted Classic,” one of the onboard theater productions.

5 Must-Do’s for Your Clients

Of course, there’s an array of things to do on board the Disney Magic, as well as at Castaway Cay, but we’ve pinpointed five must-do’s that we personally experienced and thoroughly enjoyed.

  • Take a ride on the AquaDunk water slide, which sends guests plummeting down a drop tube and out over the edge of the ship, well sort of. Just take the plunge!
  • Dine at Animator’s Palate, featuring the new show, “Drawn to Magic,” which showcases the evolution of animation from pencil to ink-and-paint to storytelling.
  • Go to the Walt Disney Theater to watch “Disney Dreams – An Enchanted Classic” and sit as far front as possible to get sprinkled with some pixie dust (you’ll thank us!).
  • Explore the Oceaneer Lab and the Oceaneer Club—no matter your age. Try to sneak in a ride down the Slinky Dog slide in Andy’s Room, or become Iron Man for the day at Marvel’s Avengers Academy.
  • Hang out at the D Lounge for some family karaoke or Mickey Mania Game Show.

fast facts Maiden voyage: July 30, 1998 Tonnage: 84,000 gross tons Length: 984 ft. Beam: 106 ft. Height: 171.5 ft. Speed: 21.5 knots cruising speed (maximum 24 knots) Crew: 950 Passenger decks: 11 Capacity: 2,713 passengers Staterooms: 877

Archived related articles (available on recommend.com/magazine/issue-archive):
Disney Fantasy (September 2012)

contact information
Disney Cruise Line: disneycruise.disney.go.com or disneytravelagents.com